A federal court ruled Wednesday that Canada owes the Blood Tribe 162.5 square miles (258 square kilometres) of land to fulfill its Treaty obligations.
“The Blood Tribe Chief and Councillors are pleased to announce that a judgement has been received from the Federal Court on what is known as the “Big Claim”, said a release from the community.
“A claim which the Blood Tribe has been pursuing for many years.”
The Blood Tribe, located in southern Alberta, first started the process of reclaiming their land in 1980.
Under the Treaty Land Entitlement formula, the Blood Tribe was entitled to a reserve of 710 square miles (1,838 square kilometres). The current reserve is 547.5 square miles (1,418 square kilometres)
According to the claim in the federal court, the Blood Tribe said that Canada failed to fulfill its Treaty obligation to provide one square mile of reserve land for each five members of the Blood Tribe.
That would add approximately 100 square miles to the reserve.
It also claimed that the lands between the St. Mary and Kootenay Rivers, to the mountains and to the International Boundary as its reserve; and that its reserve was established by the 1882 Nelson survey, which surveyed the southern boundary of the reserve 5 miles further south than it is currently.
“The Federal Court’s findings agreed with the Blood Tribe’s claim that there was an outstanding Treaty obligation and that the Tribe is owed a further 162.5 square miles based on the population at the time,” the statement said.
“The Blood Tribe trusts that given the history of the Big Claim and the fact that both the ICC and the Federal Court have found that the Blood Tribe has a valid claim that Canada will not be appealing this recent judgement and that there will be finality to this long outstanding treaty obligation.”
The Big Claim was ordered to be to be heard in the Federal Court as three phases.
Phase one was the oral history evidence of Blood Tribe Elders, heard in May, 2016, phase two was a hearing on the substantive legal issues that was heard in May and June of 2018, and phase three willdeal with the damages that the Blood Tribe suffered.
Leaders in the community first went to the specific claims court in 1996 but in 2002, Canada informed the Blood Tribe that the entire claim was rejected for negotiation through the specific claims process.
It was then pursued through the Federal Court.
“Now that the Federal Court of Canada has provided its decision Blood Tribe Council will be reviewing the options available to the Blood Tribe including the steps to bring this before the Court to have Phase 3 held and will continue to keep Blood Tribe members informed on the steps being taken in the Big Claim,” the statement said.
No one from the community was available for an interview.
The trial will continue at a later date to hear evidence and submissions on the remedy on the breach of treaty.